The Catholic Bishops of North East India pledged to fight climate change in the region and care for the environment.
The four-day annual conference was held from September 12 to 15 at Jubilee Memorial Hall of North East Diocesan Social Service Society, Guwahati, Assam, after a gap of two years due to the pandemic.
Over 150 participants from 15 dioceses in North East India attended it.
The theme of the conference was "Climate change in North East India and care for God's creation."
Bishop James Thoppil of Kohima and secretary to the North East India Regional Bishops Council (NEIRBC), said, "One part of India is affected by extreme drought, whereas another part experiences a severe flood. This is happening because of our greed and the kinds of choices we have made. "
Reminding the individuals of the grim reality of local weather change on the earth and, in particular, the northeast area, Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati and president of NEIRBC said, "As a younger priest, I used to travel via dense forests to succeed in a few of our centers. Now, after 35-40 years, after I journey via the identical roads, there is not any hint of a forest."
Settlements have sprung up. He pointed out that timber is minimized off and bought outside the area by unscrupulous companies with either the connivance or negligence of government equipment.
University agricultural scientist Vincent T. Darlong spoke on "pathways to conservation and caring for Mother Earth."
The Guwahati-based National Institute of Rural Development Assistant Professor Dr. Mukesh K Srivastava dwelt on soil and water conservation in the North East region. Dr. Ujjal Deka Baruah from Cotton University’s geography department highlighted the phenomenon of recurring floods and landslides in the region, their causes, and preventive measures.
Prof Lukose PJ from Assam Don Bosco University, Guwahati, presented "a vision for the church to tackle the climate crisis in the region."
To highlight the role and responsibility of the churches in addressing the concerns arising from climate change, papers were presented by environmentalists from the region.
Father Robert Athickal from the Society of Jesus’ Tarumitra Bio-reserve highlighted "the significance of "Laudato Si" (Pope Francis' teachings on the environment) for Northeast India and the need for an eco-spirituality for our times."
Father Andrew Xavier, green promoter of the Dimapur Salesian province, presented "practical tips for early habit formation in green living."
Climate change and the response from the perspectives of the pastoral apostolate, educational apostolate, social apostolate, and indigenous communities were also discussed during the meeting.
"We hope we can take with us what we have learned from this important conference that has relevance not just for Northeast India but for the whole world," said Bishop John Thomas of the Itanagar diocese.
Quoting Pope Francis, he said, "As we pledge to protect God’s creation, let us be protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and the environment." - Athanasius Mung Zou and Michael Gintungthang
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